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Inside Swords: Fall 2018

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Dear Friends & Supporters,
At Swords to Plowshares, we believe that housing is the gateway to stable health. Getting a homeless veteran housed in a safe environment is key to reducing the daily stress on mind and body after living without a stable home and establishes the foundation for a path to self-sufficiency.

A formerly homeless veteran, who receives housing and healthcare after years without access to support, can finally focus on addressing trauma and deteriorating health to start improving overall well-being.

Housing and healthcare are critical services for veterans who are poor, elderly, and sick, but nutrition can often be an afterthought for these individuals. For our veterans with a limited income, finding a warm, healthy meal can present a daily challenge. Over the last few months, we have been able to supplement regular meals provided at two of our housing sites with a breakfast served by corporate volunteers twice a month.

Also, thanks to food donations from Copia Foods, we have now been able to offer a meal to our homeless veterans who visit our Service Center. In this edition of our newsletter, you’ll hear about the incredible generosity of Craig Newmark and his support for our legal program’s effort to assist underrepresented
veterans. Another feature is our Pro Bono Attorney of the Year, Mike Lodge, a Coast Guard veteran who volunteers his time providing legal assistance to homeless and low-income
veterans with disabilities.

Also, you’ll learn about the impact our community organizer Bilal Mustafa, an Army veteran who organizes recreational activities for our residents. You’ll also see photos from the meals our wonderful corporate volunteers provide.

You too can make an impact and support the lives of our veterans. Please join us in helping end the cycle of poverty and homelessness with a purchase of hygiene items for our homeless veterans, setting up a monthly recurring donation, or dedicating another gift to support our vital programs and services.

Michael Blecker
Executive Director
Vietnam Combat Veteran
U.S. Army 1967-1970

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Inside Swords: Fall 2018

  1. 1. Michael Lodge wins Pro Bono Partner of the Year. PAGE 6 → 1 Craig Newmark Donation Spotlight PAGE 4 → FALL 2018 Inside Swords
  2. 2. 2 INSIDE SWORDS Dear Friends & Supporters, At Swords to Plowshares, we believe that housing is the gateway to stable health. Getting a homeless veteran housed in a safe environment is key to reducing the daily stress on mind and body after living without a stable home and establishes the foundation for a path to self- sufficiency. A formerly homeless veteran, who receives housing and healthcare after years without access to support, can finally focus on addressing trauma and deteriorating health to start improving overall wellbeing. Housing and healthcare are critical services for veterans who are poor, elderly, and sick, but nutrition can often be an afterthought for these individuals. For our veterans with a limited income, finding a warm, healthy meal can present a daily challenge. Over the last few months, we have been able to supplement regular meals provided at two of our housing sites with a breakfast served by corporate volunteers twice a month. Also, thanks to food donations from Copia Foods, we have now been able to offer a meal to our homeless veterans who visit our Drop-in Center. In this edition of our newsletter, you’ll hear about the incredible generosity of Craig Newmark and his support for our legal program’s effort to assist underrepresented veterans. Another feature is our Pro Bono Attorney of the Year, Mike Lodge, a Coast Guard veteran who volunteers his time providing legal assistance to homeless and low-income veterans with disabilities. Also, you’ll learn about the impact our community organizer Bilal Mustafa, an Army veteran who organizes recreational activities for our residents. You’ll also see photos from the meals our wonderful corporate volunteers provide. You too can make an impact and support the lives of our veterans. Please join us in helping end the cycle of poverty and homelessness with a purchase of hygiene items for our homeless veterans, setting up a monthly recurring donation, or dedicating another gift to support our vital programs and services. Michael Blecker Executive Director Vietnam Combat Veteran U.S. Army 1967-1970
  3. 3. FALL 2018 3 Donor Spotlight Feature Story Vets Helping Vets Academy Breakfasts Success Story Partner Highlight I N T H I S I S S U E 4 6 10 12 14 18
  4. 4. "We have a duty to stand with these brave people,to offer a hand when they can’t catch a break and to lend our voices when theirs aren’t heard."
  5. 5. FALL 2018 5 FALL 2018 "We are excited to have the continued support of Craig Newmark and his philanthropic organization," said Michael Blecker, executive director of Swords to Plowshares. "His guidance has improved our organization’s ability to use supportive technologies in conducting outreach to homeless and low-income veterans. His most recent donation, which funds an expansion of our legal program, will positively impact the lives of hundreds of veterans who are in need of our legal advocacy." "Veterans and military families deserve recognition for their service year-round," said Craig Newmark. "We have a duty to stand with these brave people, to offer a hand when they can’t catch a break and to lend our voices when theirs aren’t heard. Swords to Plowshares’ legal program does just that, and I’m proud to support its efforts to assist underrepresented and vulnerable veterans." Craig Newmark Donation Supports Legal Advocacy for Underrepresented Veterans DONOR SPOTLIGHT San Francisco-based entrepreneur Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, has become one of the most active philanthropists and proponents of veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the nation. Over the last five years, Craig has been one of Swords to Plowshares’ most ardent supporters, with over $400,000 in donations, including his most recent grant of $160,000 from Craig Newmark Philanthropies to support our legal program’s efforts to assist underrepresented and vulnerable veterans. For underserved veterans, including women veterans and those with less than honorable discharges, Swords to Plowshares’ Legal Services department provides free consultation and attorney representation to help them remedy an unjust military discharge status and access benefits, including healthcare, disability support, and homeless-prevention services. These critical VA benefits increase economic opportunity and long-term stability for veterans with service-connected disabilities. Beyond Craig’s generous financial support, he continues to provide professional expertise as a member of Swords to Plowshares’ Advisory Board. Craig works with our communications team to amplify our voice online, thereby raising awareness of veterans’ needs and advancing our policy efforts at the local, state, and national levels.
  6. 6. 6 INSIDE SWORDS Mike Lodge, senior counsel at Chevron, was named the Bill Brockett Pro Bono Attorney of the Year by Swords to Plowshares on September 20, 2018 for his outstanding work with veterans. The annual award is presented to a volunteer attorney for his or her outstanding service to veterans and dedication to Swords to Plowshares’ Veterans Pro Bono Program. The award is named in memory of William “Bill” Brockett Jr., who co-founded Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP along with John Keker. Mike Lodge served in the U.S. Coast Guard (1984- 2012) as a deck watch officer before going to law school in the Coast Guard and later serving as a prosecutor and military judge on the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals. After retiring from the Coast Guard, Mike landed a job with Chevron as a regulatory affairs and advocacy coordinator before moving up to senior counsel. Not too long after Mike started at Chevron, the company launched their pro bono program and selected Swords to Plowshares as one of their Mike Lodge at award reception Mike Lodge Named Bill Brocket Pro Bono Attorney of the Year FEATURE STORY Pro Bono legal reception at Keker,Van Nest & Peters LLP
  7. 7. FALL 2018 7 premier partners. A colleague of Mike’s was on Swords to Plowshares’ pro bono advisory board and recruited him to participate. With Mike’s experience as a former prosecutor and military judge, he was a natural fit to help provide legal assistance to veterans trying to obtain VA benefits. Mike already had an extensive record of pro bono service, having previously worked with domestic violence survivors. However, volunteering with Swords to Plowshares was his first experience working with veterans outside of his time serving in the Coast Guard. As a former base executive officer (XO), Mike had been involved in numerous administrative discharge proceedings for military service members and identified two problematic issues with this process. One is that due to the expedient nature of the administrative discharge process, service members can be separated from the military for relatively minor mistakes or errors in judgment. The other issue is that later in life, these individuals have recognized how their less than honorable discharge status affects their career aspirations and personal life. They often want to rectify the mistakes of their youth through the military discharge upgrade process. Mike’s first pro bono case was with a young decorated Marine who suffered from PTSD and had been self-medicating with drugs and alcohol during and after his time in the military. Thanks to the help of a Chevron colleague who partnered with Mike on the case, they obtained a 100 percent service-connected disability rating through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), resulting in a significant amount of payback for this veteran. He is extremely grateful for this assistance, and as a result of the win, he is now in a stable living environment and gainfully employed. (Left to right) Michael Blecker, Mike Lodge, & John Keker
  8. 8. 8 INSIDE SWORDS As a direct result of this pro bono win, Mike started to encourage other colleagues to participate and partnered with a second colleague to take on an additional case for Swords to Plowshares. Currently, they are working with a Vietnam-era veteran to help him navigate the complex VA disability claims process. Besides directly representing veterans with their VA claims, Mike has also staffed numerous legal clinics in Oakland and Menlo Park. These free legal clinics are often the first time veterans are able to meet with attorneys trained in VA law and receive expert advice on pursuing their VA claim. They also learn about the other programs and supportive services Swords to Plowshares may be able to offer in addition to legal assistance. “Being able to help veterans under Swords to Plowshares' Pro Bono Program has been a great and humbling experience,” said Mike. “We’re thrilled to honor Mike with our Bill Brockett Pro Bono Attorney of the Year award for 2018,” said Swords to Plowshares’ Legal Director Kate Richardson. “Mike has been a dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer since he started with the program several years ago. In addition to staffing multiple legal clinics with Swords to Plowshares, Mike has taken on four individual cases and has secured a significant win for one of his veteran clients. Mike also serves as an active member of our Pro Bono Advisory Board. We are deeply appreciative of Mike’s ongoing commitment to the legal needs of our community’s homeless and low-income veterans.” About Swords to Plowshares: Founded in 1974, Swords to Plowshares is a community-based not-for-profit organization that provides counseling and case management, rapid re-housing and eviction prevention services, employment and training, supportive housing, and legal benefits assistance for low-income, homeless, and at-risk veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area. Swords to Plowshares promotes and protects the rights of veterans through advocacy, public education, and partnerships with local, state, and national entities. Learn more about the work of Swords to Plowshares, and ways in which you can help, by visiting our website at http://www.swords-to-plowshares.org. About Chevron: Chevron is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies. Through its subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide, the company is involved in virtually every facet of the energy industry. Chevron explores for, produces, and transports crude oil and natural gas; refines, markets, and distributes transportation fuels and lubricants; manufactures and sells petrochemicals and additives; generates power and produces geothermal energy; and develops and deploys technologies that enhance business value in every aspect of the company’s operations. Chevron is based in San Ramon, CA. More information about Chevron is available at www.chevron.com. “I have a lot of pride in being a veteran,and I can’t thank Swords to Plowshares enough for what they do,” Mike said.
  9. 9. LaJune Davis (above) 9 Hygiene Essentials Keep Veterans Clean and Healthy Purchasing from this wish list will ship items directly to our offices for immediate distribution to the veterans assisted by Swords to Plowshares each day. Please consider a purchase from the Dollar Days wish list to help veterans at Swords to Plowshares as they work toward self-sufficiency. Drop-In Coordinator LaJune Davis knows simple items such as soap,toothbrushes,and fresh socks are essential to the veterans she sees every day.“Keeping clean when you’re living on the street is difficult. We provide as much as we can to the veterans that come in and ask for hygiene items.” www.swords-to-plowshares.org/dollar-days FOR MORE INFORMATION SWORDS-TO-PLOWSHARES.ORG STAY CONNECTED @vetshelpingvets Items for purchase can be made at:
  10. 10. 10 INSIDE SWORDS INSIDE SWORDS Bilal Mustafa served in the U.S. Navy as a boatswain mate and air traffic controller from 1984-1988. Bilal comes from a family with a rich history of military service: his grandfather was a WWII veteran who served in the U.S. Army, his dad and uncle both served over 20 years in the U.S. Navy, another uncle served in the U.S. Army, and two brothers also served around the same time as Bilal in the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy as well. Joining the military seemed like a natural fit for Bilal given his family legacy. However, Bilal ended up leaving the Navy after his four-year enlistment to pursue other passions as a civilian. He began working with inner city youth, families, and incarcerated men. But for the most part, Bilal never really had interactions with the military and veteran community outside of his family. That all changed when Bilal met an older veteran while attending the memorial service of a family friend. They got to talking after the service and the older veteran talked about veteran benefits and encourage Bilal to finally get plugged into the VA system. Bilal took the older veteran's advice and finally—after 25 years—decided to enroll at his local VA. At the time of enrollment, Bilal was working to regain his independence as a divorced father of six children. Bilal was fortunate enough to have the support of friends who let him and his family stay with them as he worked towards stability. VETS HELPING VETS Bilal Mustafa Getting to Know the Community Organizer The VA helped Bilal by referring him to the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program at Swords to Plowshares in order to get help securing a home of his own. Bilal was then referred to our Employment and Training staff, where one of our employment specialists suggested a position as a Program Monitor with our organization. As a veteran with previous experience in community organizing and working with underrepresented populations, he was a natural fit for our “vets helping vets” model. After spending some time as a Program Monitor, a full-time Community Organizer position opened at Swords to Plowshares. Bilal was encouraged to apply for the role by a fellow staff member. Bilal interviewed for the job and was selected due to his experience and great rapport with veteran residents. As Community Organizer, Bilal organizes activities for our veteran residents like bowling, fishing, karaoke, bingo, bay cruises, congregate meals, and sporting events. The programs and activities Bilal develops and manages for our residents aim to get our veterans active and involved in their communities. “I have always loved to help people. The best part of this job is watching how people transform and change their lives,” Bilal said. “It’s simply amazing to not just watch this process, but also to help someone overcome the challenges of addiction or homelessness and seeing them prosper.”
  11. 11. "The best part of this job is watching how people transform and change their lives."
  12. 12. 12 INSIDE SWORDS At the Veterans Academy, the first-ever permanent supportive housing for veterans in the country, we provide one free congregate meal to residents daily. Located in The Presidio National Park, access to food and dining is limited in the area, this critically important program ensures residents a nutritional, healthy option and helps address isolation. Over the last few months, we have been able to supplement our meal program with a monthly breakfast served by corporate volunteers from JP Morgan Chase and Lucasfilm Ltd. These monthly breakfasts have given our veterans an additional opportunity to receive a nutritious meal and serve as an important social function that promotes positive interactions and reduces isolation among residents. Academy Breakfast JP Morgan Chase and Lucasfilm Ltd.Volunteer at the Academy VeteransAcademyresident,JackFong
  13. 13. 13 Veteran residents, Swords to Plowshares staff, and volunteers pictured above
  14. 14. 14 INSIDE SWORDS Winston Nichols, a Philadelphia native, served in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division from 1977 to 1987. After spending a decade in the infantry, Winston left the Army as a staff sergeant and began his transition to civilian life with his then wife and children. Winston struggled with alcohol dependence after his time in the military and jumped around from job to job after leaving service. Winston’s alcohol addiction eventually destroyed his marriage of over 20 years, his relationship with his children, and led to the loss of his job. This series of events led Winston to face the harsh reality of homelessness. He started out on the East Coast, bouncing around from town to town and staying with friends, at hotels, or on the streets before making it out to California. Winston eventually found himself in the Central Valley and checked into the Fresno VA Medical Center for issues pertaining to his eyesight. While seeking treatment, it was discovered that Winston had glaucoma and cataracts in his eyes and that he needed a referral to see various eye specialists at the San Francisco VA Medical Center for further medical recommendations. With Winston being homeless and having no reliable mode of transportation to make his initial appointment in San Francisco, traveling presented quite the challenge for Winston. However, he ended up finding a way to get to the city. During his referral appointment, the doctor discovered that Winston was not sober at the time and informed him that he needed to obtain sobriety before proceeding with treatment for his eye conditions. His eye specialist didn't turn Winston away, instead the doctor referred Winston to the Fresh Start program for substance abuse treatment. Winston went through a nine- month program, got clean and sober, and was able to receive treatment for his eye conditions as a result. During this time, he lost one eye and had it replaced with a glass one at the VA and had surgery to put an artificial lens in his other eye. These surgeries led Winston to being designated as legally blind. Having been homeless for over a year, coupled with his significant visual impairments, Winston was considered a high-priority candidate for permanent supportive housing. Winston ended up being referred to Swords to Plowshares for placement at an ADA-accessible unit at the Veterans Commons. With his housing situation now stable, Winston has continued to seek treatment for his eye conditions and has maintained his sobriety for over three years, thanks to the supportive services provided by Swords to Plowshares and the VA. Back on the Right Beat Veteran Gives Back though Music
  15. 15. 15 "Thanks to Swords to Plowshares, the VA, and my church, I’ve not only found hope, but can now help others."
  16. 16. 16 INSIDE SWORDS Despite losing most of his sight, Winston is still an avid gym enthusiast and loves to serve up some drum beats on his five- piece set. Winston is often caught playing multiple times a week somewhere on Market Street or on Sundays playing at his church’s services. Winston’s love extends far beyond his music, as he continues to give back to others facing homelessness by donating any money he earns from his music. "What I'm doing is a small thing, but it is helping people who are homeless and letting other people know, whether they're veterans or not, there is a way out of this disease of alcohol and drugs," Winston said. "Thanks to Swords to Plowshares, the VA, and my church, I’ve not only found hope, but can now help others." Winston playing his drums on 5th and Market Streets Winston (middle) and his first wife on their wedding day
  17. 17. FALL 2018 17 Dear Supporters, We made the difficult decision not to go ahead with hosting our 22nd Annual Veterans Day Dinner scheduled for November 8th as planned. Our annual event, which we’ve held in honor of Veterans Day, will be postponed until January 17, 2019. We have hosted our annual gala for several years at the Palace Hotel and our reservation has been in place for nearly a year. The venue is under Marriott management. You may have heard that workers have been on strike for more than two weeks. With no progress toward a new contract, 7,000 workers took to the streets of San Francisco in protest. As an organization that serves primarily low-income veterans — many of whom work in lower wage and/or hourly positions like these hotel workers, we cannot in good conscience cross the picket line. We have no reason to believe that a new contract will be negotiated prior November 8th. After careful consideration, we determined the best option for our organization and supporters was to postpone our event until January 17, 2019. Veterans Day is an appropriate day for such a celebration, but so is any day. Veterans are out on the streets every day and night, and Swords is out there year-round working to address veteran homelessness. We are grateful to all of our supporters. You can still support this annual event. To purchase tickets or make a donation, visit www.swords-to-plowshares.org/veterans-day
  18. 18. 18 INSIDE SWORDS Mark Jeffrey, a San Diego native, served in the U.S. Air Force (1993-1995), as a medical supply specialist. Since leaving the military, Mark hasn’t had the easiest life, and just over two years ago ended up homeless. During this experience, Mark has tried to use the shelter system as much as possible to stay off the streets, but with the waitlist and need being so great in San Francisco, there have been many times he has had to resort to sleeping outside. Since Mark only served two years in the military, he doesn’t qualify for most veteran benefits and receives only general assistance as a result. Due to his current homelessness and limited income, finding a warm, healthy meal has been a daily challenge for Mark and his health has suffered. While bouncing around the San Francisco’s shelter system, he was eventually referred to Swords to Plowshares, which serves all veterans, no matter their length of military service or what era they may have served in. Ending Hunger with Copia Receiving a Nutritious Meal is One Less Worry for this Homeless Veteran Mark Jeffrey (above) PARTNER SPOTLIGHT
  19. 19. FALL 2018 19 Mark walked into Swords to Plowshares’ Drop-in Center for help with his lack of housing and found out about the support groups offered. While seeking help, Mark discovered that Swords to Plowshares has a food program for veterans currently facing homelessness and now had a healthier option for his meals. The food program at the Drop-in Center is a new service at Swords to Plowshares and has only been around since early 2018. This program was created as a response to the need of providing nutritious meals to veterans facing homelessness. Thanks to donations from Copia™ and other community partners, this program has continued to expand since its inception. “My doctors told me I needed to stop eating processed foods to improve my health, and that had been a significant challenge for me,” Mark said. “But now, the challenge of finding a healthy, tasty meal is a bit less daunting, since Swords to Plowshares provides great options with their food program at their main office.” Photos courtesy of Copia website
  20. 20. Swords to Plowshares 1060 Howard Street San Francisco, CA 94103 PRESORTED FIRST CLASS U.S POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO. 316 SACRAMENTO, CA @vetshelpingvets /vetshelpingvets vetshelpingvets swords to plowshares @vetshelpingvets Ways To Give Swords to Plowshares serves nearly 3,000 local veterans each year thanks to the generosity of individual, corporate, and foundation donors. These resources help us address ongoing and unexpected needs for homeless and at-risk veterans in the Bay Area. Swords to Plowshares is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and donations are tax-deductible to the maximum extent permitted by law. The Annual Fund The Annual Fund provides immediate resources that we can invest in the areas of greatest need. Honor and Memorial Gifts This is a special way to honor a veteran or celebrate someone important to you by making a tribute gift in their name. Monthly Donations A recurring monthly donation is convenient and can fit better into your budget by spreading a donation over a period of time. Matching Gifts Many employers have a matching program that can double or even triple your gift. Talk to your human resources department for more information. Donor-Advised Funds Swords to Plowshares can be a recipient of your philanthropy by directing a gift to us from a donor-advised fund. Planned Giving By including Swords to Plowshares in your will or trust, you will leave a personal legacy and give back to veterans for decades to come. To make a gift, complete and mail the enclosed envelope or visit our website at https://www.swords-to-plowshares.org/donate/fall-winter/

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